Interview with Jamie Bernadette: From Leading to Writing and Producing

Last time I spoke with Jamie Bernadette (read that interview here), the up-and-coming actress was preparing to leave for South Africa for a leading role in the film The Furnace with award-winning director Darrell Roodt. Since then, she has become increasingly busy with several projects including her latest film, The 6th Friend (read our review here), which she wrote and produced from beginning to end. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jamie once again about some of her highly anticipated films, her experience on the other side of the camera and more!

Jamie Bernadette

PopHorror: Hi, Jamie! Thank you for taking time to speak with me.

Jamie Bernadette: Of course!

PopHorror: To start, last time we spoke, you were preparing for a trip to Africa to shoot a leading role in a film called The Furnace. How was this experience?

Jamie Bernadette: Oh, I had a blast! It was life changing. I feel like I met some of the warmest, kindest, most amazing people! I made the best of friends, people I still talk to every single day. I was reunited with some of these people in November and part of December when they had me come back to lead another film they are doing called Hear No Evil. But The Furnace was the most emotionally challenging role I have ever done, and it was the most rewarding. The director, Darrell Roodt, changed my life, my career and how I feel about myself. He’s amazing! And he’s honest. He’s so good at what he does. If a scene wasn’t working, he would tell me why. He’s a loving, honest, straightforward, beautiful soul and director.

PopHorror: That sounds like an amazing experience! What can you tell me about the film you went back for, Hear No Evil?

Jamie Bernadette: It’s a horror film by the same production team with Darrell directing. It’s an amazing script! As of right now, they haven’t publicly released much information regarding what the film is about, so I can’t say much. But I can say that I’m joined by Betsy Sligh who was recently in Tyra Banks’ film Life-Size 2. She will be playing my character’s daughter, and she’s a wonderful actress! This film is just an amazing, heartbreaking family drama, but is also a horror film. We’re currently in pre-production with it. My time in Africa during November and part of December was spent doing script readings, meeting with the rest of the cast and doing press and photo shoots for the film. Betsy really became a friend out there. She’s like a little adult. She’s amazing! (laughs) We’ll be going back later this year to film the movie.

Poster artwork for The Furnace

PopHorror: That sounds interesting! In regards to The Furnace, what was your favorite part of filming?

Jamie Bernadette: I would have to say the people. I built really strong, grounded and sincere relationships with people who are like a family to me now.

PopHorror: What would you say was the biggest challenge?

Jamie Bernadette: There was a lot of physicality to the role, because I was playing someone who loses the use of one of her lungs. And like probably 98% of films that are made, we jumped all over the script. So, I had to be consistent as far as where my character was physically. When you lose the use of one lung, the other lung will expand in the chest cavity to compensate for the one that isn’t working. So, as far as my character’s breathing would be at various parts in the film, I had to be consistent. One day, we would be shooting the end of the film, and the next day, we would be shooting the beginning of the film. So, I had to know where my character was at physically. And I had to know where she would be emotionally as well, because my character goes on an emotional roller coaster throughout the film having lost her husband.

PopHorror: So, you play a very layered character it sounds like!

Jamie Bernadette: Oh, for sure! So, I think that was the biggest challenge. Just jumping all over. My script was just filled with ink and covered in notes because you have to be on it. And we filmed really fast! It was about an 18 day shoot. I had to nail this in very few takes. But Darrell knows what he wants, and he knows how to get it. He knows when he’s got it, and he moves on. There’s just no question. He is such a pro!

PopHorror: Is The Furnace based on a true story? It just seems like one of those survival films that is inspired by something that actually happened.

Jamie Bernadette: No, it’s not, actually. But a lot of people do ask that.

PopHorror: Oh good, so I’m not the only one! (both laugh) What can we expect from the movie, and when might we see a release?

Jamie Bernadette: Oh, I’ve seen the film. And I cried and cried! And I’m watching myself, which makes it more difficult to get involved. I’m one of those actresses who never likes to watch herself on screen. I’ll watch my movies one time, and then I don’t want to see it again. But I watched this one, and I cried my eyes out! And then I saw it a second time and I cried again! Everyone who has seen it says they are bawling by the end! It just jolts you because it’s so emotional. So, expect it to be a tear jerker, for sure. But right now, they’re wanting to do a film festival run. But I’m excited for people to see this one. The trailer will even make people cry when it’s released.

Poster artwork for The 6th Friend

PopHorror: I can’t wait to see it! It sounds like a powerful film, for sure. So, your latest film to be released is The 6th Friend, and I’m aware that you not only acted in this film, but you wrote and produced this one! Was this your first experience working behind the camera in this way?

Jamie Bernadette: Yes, it was. There were a lot of learning curves. (laughs)

PopHorror: How was the experience overall for you?

Jamie Bernadette: Honestly, it was hard! It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. At one point, the crew consisted of 35 people. So, I’m handling a huge crew while leading the film. But when I was acting, I was focused on acting. And Letia Clouston, the director, didn’t want anyone talking to me when I was acting. But when the acting was done, I was handling the producing side. And a lot goes on! Every day, it’s just crazy what comes up. Like the sound guy has another job he has to get to, and you have to replace him. That happened twice!

I slept two hours a night throughout that shoot. When I drove myself and Actress Tania Nolan, who’s from New Zealand and doesn’t have a U.S. license, home from the cabin, I was the most tired I have ever been in my life. I could not make it home from the mountains. It’s like I was hallucinating, so I just had to pull over. And it was like 110 degrees in the desert, and my AC in my car didn’t work at the time. But there was nowhere else to go, and I couldn’t make it one more inch. So, I slept sitting straight up leaning against the window. Every once in awhile, I would wake up and look over at Tania, who is just pouring sweat.

Jamie Bernadette in The 6th Friend

PopHorror: That sounds crazy! Do you see yourself ever writing and producing again?

Jamie Bernadette: I’m writing The 6th Friend 2, which has always been the plan. But my producing partner, Chantelle Albers, and I don’t want to produce it from the ground up again. It was too much the first time around. We’re hoping that the first film will take off, do well and build a fan base. And we’re hoping that will lead to getting an offer from a production company to produce the sequel while we take on the role of executive producers. But I may make a smaller film in South Africa. I’m in talks with someone about producing. This would be a much smaller scale of a film.

PopHorror: With writing, producing and acting under your built, have you considered directing?

Jamie Bernadette: I have, actually. I’ve talked with Darrell Roodt, the director of The Furnace, about shadowing his work. I don’t know if it will happen, but I’ve put the bug in his ear. Of course, I’d rather act in his films, but if I’m not acting, I would love to shadow him through the directing process. I want to learn from the best, and he’s one of the best out there.

PopHorror: What can you tell me about the story behind The 6th Friend?

Jamie Bernadette: On the night of these 6 friends’ college graduation, a man ends up dead. So, you’re trying to figure out what happened because the group took LSD and things got kind of crazy. Five years later, the girls get together and the man seems to have come back. Kind of like in I Know What You Did Last Summer. But throughout the film, you’re trying to figure out what is going on. It’s a little paranormal, and they’re hallucinating. Is it real or is it not? And you’re trying to figure that out throughout the whole movie. It’s a slasher film and a paranormal film, but it’s also a psychological thriller.

Some of the reviews have looked at it as a straight slasher flick, but it’s not that type of film, because it’s not about the deaths. And there’s a lot of messages in the film. So, we take our time. It’s more than just a horror film. Some reviews didn’t pick up on that and others did. Some didn’t enjoy it as much as others and others loved it! Overall, responses have been fantastic. Even the reviews that didn’t quite like that it wasn’t a straightforward horror film still had some good things to say about it.

PopHorror: You’ll have that, though. There will always be some negative responses, but it’s still great that the ones who didn’t enjoy it as much as others still had good things to say. Were there any particular influences that went into this film?

Jamie Bernadette: Yes, actually. Ever since I saw the film The Descent, I’ve wanted to make a film with all females in the main cast who aren’t stereotypical. They make good decisions, they’re intelligent and they’re real people. And then I’ve always loved the original ’78 Halloween. So, that’s where the slasher element comes in as well.

PopHorror: Very cool! What was your favorite part about filming The 6th Friend?

Jamie Bernadette: I loved that I had a say in everything… the editing, the music, the sound design. There are times I’ll act in a film, I’ll see it and think that if they had just sped the editing up, the scene would have been great. There’s a saying in film that a bad editor can make a good actor look bad and a good editor can make a bad actor look good. And it’s so true! As an actor, you can’t do anything about any of this. It’s out of your hands. So, it was wonderful to have some say in all of that. And my team and I didn’t agree on everything, but we agreed on most things. So, that was the best part of it. Having my hands in every aspect of it and having the final product be mostly what I wanted.

PopHorror: What would you say was the biggest challenge?

Jamie Bernadette: It was managing everything. All the logistics. It was just insanity! Handling everything from the money to the permits and complaints as well as actor issues. It was very difficult juggling so many things at once.

PopHorror: I bet! Especially when you throw leading the film on top of everything. Having more say over everything as a producer does come with more responsibility, I’m sure. So, where can people check out The 6th Friend?

Jamie Bernadette: Oh, it’s everywhere! It’s on most major VOD platforms including Vudu, iTunes, and Amazon.

Jamie Bernadette in I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu

PopHorror: That great! Are there any other upcoming projects that you would like to mention?

Jamie Bernadette: Yeah, I have a film called Cerberus coming out, which Sean Cain directed. I’m playing one of the villains. A lot of fun! A different role for me and it was great. I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu is coming out this year, for sure. I know where that project stands, but I’m not authorized to talk too much about it as of yet. I can say that I have seen the director’s cut, and it is a great homage to the original film. I think the fans will appreciate it. Then, of course, The Furnace and Hear No Evil. And I did this really fun film called Nicole, Her Ex & The Killer. My role in that one is also a different one for me. I play the stuck-up sister of the lead character. And we’re getting to the end of post-production of the post-apocalyptic film I helped produce called State of Desolation.

PopHorror: It sounds like you have plenty of exciting stuff coming out, and I look forward to seeing them! Thank you, Jamie, for your time.

Jamie Bernadette: You’re very welcome! Thank you for the opportunity.

With so many projects and leading roles, Jamie certainly won’t be leaving the spotlight anytime soon. Having successfully produced her own film from the ground up, a sequel in the works and the releases of The Furnace and I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu on the horizon, I’m excited to see what’s next for her career!

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